The disclosure of a disability and the need for accommodations is an extremely sensitive subject requiring utmost confidentiality. Discussion between the student and faculty member should be protected. Further, your ability to work with the student to ensure equal opportunity in your class to consume knowledge and be fairly tested on course material will largely depend on a positive "work with me" attitude from both parties.
Keep in mind that students do not have to reveal a specific diagnosis to you, but they must do so in our office and provide substantial documentation of the condition.
You Have a Legal Responsibility to Provide Anonymity
It is very important, unless the student decides otherwise, that he or she not be identified as a person with a disability to other faculty, staff or classmates. For students with obvious disabilities, like wheelchair users, disclosure of the disability cannot be avoided; but students with learning disabilities and/or psychiatric/psychological disabilities are often very sensitive about being identified as a student with a disability. Therefore it is very important that instructors avoid "singling out" such students in the classroom.
DO'S AND DON'TS
- DO NOT ask a student about information regarding accommodation issues when other students are in the classroom. For example, simply asking a student whether or not they have received a scribe for notetaking is still unacceptable. You are still considered to be revealing confidential information about one of your students to the rest of the class.
- DO feel free to e-mail a student with a disability if you have any questions or concerns. This is the quickest, most confidential and efficient way of contacting a student.
- DO NOT reveal any information to any parents or acquaintances of a student with a disability, even if they sound concerned. Once a student is 18 years of age, they are provided with the same protection of confidentiality as with any other adult. Written Releases of Information are required for you to provide any information regarding a student, including academic progress or disability status.
- DO feel free to ask students about how you can better meet their needs and address their concerns.